Human papillomavirus genotype and oropharynx cancer survival in the United States of America

Marc T. Goodman, Mona Saraiya, Trevor D. Thompson, Martin Steinau, Brenda Y. Hernandez, Charles F. Lynch, Christopher W. Lyu, Edward J. Wilkinson, Thomas Tucker, Glenn Copeland, Edward S. Peters, Sean Altekruse, Elizabeth R. Unger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background The presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer (OPSCC) tissue appears to be a strong predictor of improved prognosis, but this observation has not been explored in a population-based sample with generalisable findings. Methods Follow-up data from a large sample of OPSCC patients identified through six population-based cancer registries in the United States of America (USA) were used to characterise the association of tumour HPV status with survival. Results HPV DNA was detected in tumour tissue from 71% (378 in 529) of the OPSCC patients. A total of 65% of patients with HPV16-associated tumours survived 5 years compared to 46% of patients with other HPV types and 28% of patients with HPV-negative tumours (p log-rank test <0.0001). The OPSCC patients with detectable HPV16 DNA had a 62% reduced hazard of death at 5 years, and patients with other HPV types had a 42% reduced hazard of death at 5 years compared to HPV-negative patients. Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks with OPSCC had a 2.6-fold greater risk of death at 5 years after adjustment for HPV status and other prognostic variables. Both surgery and radiation therapy were associated with a reduced 5-year risk of death, but no evidence was found for an interaction between HPV status and radiotherapy or surgery on survival time. Conclusions Data from this US study suggest that HPV16-positive OPSCC patients survive longer than HPV-negative patients regardless of treatment, highlighting the prognostic importance of HPV status for this malignancy. Optimal treatment regimens for OPSCC could be tailored to each patient's HPV status and prognostic profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2759-2767
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number18
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank all members of the HPV Typing of Cancers Workgroup for their contributions toward this study.

Funding Information:
This work was largely supported by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) intramural funds and Vaccine for Children Funds including the collection of original specimens from non-repositories (Kentucky, Florida, Michigan, and Louisiana), coordination of genotyping data from both the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and the National Program of Cancer Registries. This project was also supported in part with federal funds by CDC under grant nos 5U58DP000810-5 (Kentucky), 5U58DP000844-5 (Florida), 5U58DP000812-5 (Michigan), and 5U58DP000769-5 (Louisiana) and with federal funds for Residual Tissue Repositories from the National Cancer Institute SEER Population-Based Registry Program, National Institutes of Health , Department of Health and Human Services, under contract nos. N01-PC-35143 (Iowa) and N01-PC-35137 (Hawaii).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Archived tissue
  • Cancer of the oropharynx
  • Cancer registry
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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